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Queens Chronicle

Wills seeks revision for state homeless funding

City seeks flexibility for recipients

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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) has introduced a resolution that he hopes will lead to the restoration of state money to help the homeless enter transitional housing programs.

The resolution, if passed and taken up by the state Legislature, would change language in the current state budget proposal that prohibits the use of state money for rent subsidy reimbursement and other programs.

Wills said the city has an estimated 53,000 homeless, including many families with children.

The councilman said the changes he wants would make it easier to take the homeless off waiting lists that sometimes can carry over for years and get them out of the shelter system and into so-called transitional housing, which is the first step toward permanent housing

“The language was changed in the 2011-12 state budget,” Wills said in an interview on Monday. “Before that, we were able to move 4,000 families a year into the transitional process.”

He also said it would offer the city leeway to divert some money for other services which would make the transitional process easier, such as programs to assist parents or keep children from having to move about between school districts during the academic year.

“We’d like to have the flexibility to tailor some of the funding to individuals’ needs,” he said.

A hearing is scheduled for next week. Wills said Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-South Ozone Park) is willing to back the measure in the state Assembly and he is courting support in the state Senate.

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